What Not to Wear for a Passport Photo

passport photos

Have an international trip coming up, and you need a passport photo?  First, obtaining a passport photo is a major step to getting your passport.  Second, not following the State Department’s rules will certainly qualify you for a returned application.  So, before you head to the photo store to obtain a passport photo become knowledgeable.

Don’t count on the photographer knowing the rules.  Most don’t, so educate yourself before you leave home.  I had to have my passport photo retaken because I wore a headband.  I was so glad the photo shop was close to the passport application office.  However, it was frustrating and time consuming to have it done twice.

Here are a few tips:

Hats – No baseball caps, fedoras, straw hat, cowboy/cowgirl hats or any other head covering is allowed.

Head Scarves – Scarves worn for religious purposes are allowed.  However, scarves worn for fashion are not.

Headband – Avoid anything that will obstruct your hairline.  This includes headbands and/or scarves.

Glasses – Glasses are not allowed.  This includes prescription or sunglasses.

Uniform – Military, scrubs, police or security guards and/or pilot uniforms are not allowed.  Religious clothing is allowed.

A Smile –  As of 2016, the State Department does not allow passport applicants to smile in their photos.

Electronic Headgear – This includes earphones, Bluetooth or other electronic devices.

The State Department requires that an applicant’s picture not be older than 6 months. Why, because the State Department wants the photo to reflect your current appearance.  Furthermore, your photo must be 2 x 2.  Therefore, wherever you have your passport photo taken, they should return to you in the correct size.  As a result, it will need to fit into the appropriate area on your passport application.  You will want to implement the following too:

  • The background of the photo must be solid white
  • The photo must be in color
  • Photo paper should be glossy or a matte finish
  • Lay infants on a white sheet or infant blanket.  Next, place the white sheet or blanket in the carrier or on the area provided.  Most importantly, your child should be able to look into the camera, and their eyes must be open.

Finally, you may also like How to Obtain a Passport in 5 Easy Steps.


Speak Your Mind



  1. Great tips! Wish I would have passed this onto my sister who just went to get her photo taken today! I’m sure she would have appreciated the tips…Love your website too!